Introduction

A pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.

Under the Criminal Records Act (CRA), the National Parole Board (NPB) may issue, grant, deny, or revoke pardons for convictions under federal acts or regulations of Canada.

Advantages of a Pardon

All information pertaining to convictions will be taken out of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and may not be disclosed without permission from the Minister of Public Safety Canada. The CRA applies only to records kept within federal departments and agencies. However, many of the provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies cooperate by restricting access to their records once notified that a pardon has been granted.

PardonThe Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination based on a pardoned conviction. This includes services a person needs or the opportunity to work for a federal agency. The CRA states that no employment application form within the federal public service may ask any question that would require an applicant to disclose a pardoned conviction. This also applies to a Crown corporation, the Canadian Forces, or any business within the federal authority.

Limitations

A pardon does not erase the fact that a person was convicted of an offence.

A pardon does not guarantee entry or visa privileges to another country.

Courts and police services (other than the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)) are under provincial and municipal legislation. This means that they do not have to keep records of convictions separate and apart from other criminal records.

The CRA lists certain sexual offences. If a person was pardoned for such offences, his/her record will be kept separate and apart, but his/her name will be flagged in the CPIC computer system. This means a person may be asked to let employers see his/her record if this person wants to work with children or with groups that are vulnerable because of their age or disability.

A sentence may have included a driving or firearms prohibition order. A pardon will not cancel these prohibition orders.

Revocation

The NPB may revoke a pardon if:

  • The person is later convicted of a summary offence under a federal act or regulation of Canada;
  • The NPB finds that the person is no longer of good conduct; or
  • The NPB learns that a false or deceptive statement was made, or relevant information was concealed at the time of the application.

In the above-mentioned circumstances, the records of the pardoned offences will again be kept with the other conviction records.pardon image

Who May Apply?

A person may apply for a pardon if he/she was convicted of an offence under a federal act or regulation of Canada. A person may apply even if he/she is not a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada. A person may also apply if he/she was convicted in another country and transferred to Canada under the Transfer of Offenders Act.

Discharges

A person does not need to apply for a pardon if his/her criminal record consists only of absolute or conditional discharges. Absolute or conditional discharges handed down by the court on or after July 24, 1992 will automatically be removed from the CPIC computer system one year (absolute discharge) or three years (conditional discharge) after the court decision. For discharges given before July 24, 1992 to be removed from the record, a person must contact the RCMP at the their Pardon & Purge Services,  Information & Identification Services in Ottawa.

When You May Apply

Before a person is eligible to apply for a pardon, he/she must have (1) completed all sentences and (2) waited a certain period from the completion of all sentences.

► When is a sentence completed?

  • When a person has paid all fines, surcharges, costs, restitutions and compensation orders in full;

  • When a person has served all of his/her time, including parole or statutory release; and

  • When a person has satisfied his/her probation order.

► What is the waiting period?

a. Under the Criminal Code of Canada and other federal statutes:

  • Three years for summary convictions; and
  • Five years for indictable offences.

b. Under the Transfer of Offenders Act:

  • Five years for all convictions.

c. Under the National Defence Act:

  • Five years if the person was fined more than $2,000;

  • Five years if the person was imprisoned more than six months;

  • Five years if the person was dismissed from the service; and

  • Three years for all other penalties.

How to apply: A person must obtain a Pardon Application Guide from the NPB offices or from the RCMP offices, provincial and municipal police offices and courts of justice. The Guide will outline how to obtain required documents such as the criminal record, local police records check and other pertinent information. An applicant does not need a lawyer or representative to apply for a pardon. For assistance, an applicant may call the Pardons Section toll-free number: 1-800-874-2652.

References/Acknowledgments

The preceding is a verbatim transcript from the National Parole Board of Canada's brochure "Facts About Pardon Under the Criminal Records Act". Duhaime Law wishes to thank the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada for permission to reproduce this information.The web address of the National Parole Board is http://www.npb-cnlc.gc.ca/. The web site also hosts a Fact Sheet on Pardons which will likely contain current information on pardons in Canada.